Sri Lanka judicial independence seen weakening

Standing left to right – Mr. Dinesh Jebamani (Chief Manager Liability Product Management and New Age Media – Seylan Bank), Mr.Sudesh Peiris (Senior Manager – Digital Banking Channels – Seylan Bank), Ms. S.Senevirathne (Representative of the Revenue Department – Western Province), Mr. Tilan Wijeyesekera (Deputy General Manager – Retail Banking – Seylan Bank) and Mr. Malik Wickremanayaka (Deputy General Manager – Operations – Seylan Bank)

June 03, 2011 (LBO) – The International Bar Association’s human rights arm said it was concerned over what it called “the increasing erosion of judicial independence in Sri Lanka.” The association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) said recent and planned changes to the island’s constitution could undermine the independence of the judiciary.

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has raised these concerns in a confidential letter to the government of Sri Lanka, it said in a statement.

The proposed 19th Amendment to the constitution limits the term of the Chief Justice to five years and gives the president of Sri Lanka the authority to appoint the Secretary to the Judicial Services Commission.

“We believe that it is by providing judges with a permanent or long-term mandate that their independence will be maximized, as will public confidence in the judiciary,” said Sternford Moyo, IBAHRI Co-Chair.

“We do not consider the five years proposed by the 19th Amendment to equate to appropriate security of tenure.

“Further, we are concerned that the appointment of the Secretary to the Judicial Services Commission, a key judicial instit